Simplifying Christmas...Complicating Matters

Lindsey - posted on 12/17/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

121

0

18

The signs are all there... non-stop carols on every radio station, throngs of last-minute holiday shoppers choking up the checkout lines, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on the T.V. every night, lights, trees and decorations... it's Christmas time again.

This year, we're doing things differently in our household. My husband and I discussed this months ago, and decided to simplify this year. Our little guy is getting just a few select gifts (nothing expensive or over the top), and we are doing the same for each other. And we are not buying gifts for every Tom, Dick, Harry and Aunt Sylvia. And we have asked that others not buy gifts for our son, or if they absolutely must, that they buy books or clothing rather than toys.

We have also decided that, starting this year, we are going to have our own family Christmas. That means it will be just the three of us on Christmas Day. We will start our own Christmas traditions, in our own home. I will not be making a ginormous turkey whose leftovers will stink up my fridge by New Years. I will not stress out over whether my Christmas tree is leaning to one side or if some of the lights on my house are burned out, or if there are enough presents under the tree.

Here's the problem, it seems many people in our family disagree with our plans.

Certain family members have expressed outrage that we are not going into debt to buy our son a couple hundred toys (most of which will be broken or forgotten by Boxing Day). "Christmas is for the kids", they say.

Other family members are shocked that we will not be travelling to see them on Christmas day. They have asked us repeatedly if we are coming to their home for Christmas, and we have to tell them (repeatedly) that we are spending Christmas day at home. We will visit them either on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, and they are more than welcome to come and visit with us as well.

Add to that the fact that some of our siblings seem to think that it is our responsibility to buy their children presents. We used to do that every year, but between my hubby and I, we have 9 of them. If we were to buy each of them a $20 gift that would set us back $180 (not to mention shipping costs). And let's face it, $20 does not go very far, especially when you're talking about teenagers who want I-phones, video games and cell phones for Christmas.

We are not Grinch's and we are not out to ruin the holidays for others. We love our families and we love Christmas. We just want to get back to the basics. We want our son to learn about family and about giving and about the true meaning of Christmas. And we want to start our own family traditions. But it appears that by simplifying our Christmas, we've ended up complicating matters.

Anyone have any thoughts?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Lindsey - posted on 12/19/2011

121

0

18

Wow, so I guess I should explain. We would never tell our parents not to buy for their grandson (and really, like any grandparent, they wouldn't listen if we did).



When I said we asked them not to buy gifts, I was referring to our siblings. And there is good reason for that. Our family dynamics are a bit... off. And some of our siblings are also a bit... off. Some of them buy gifts not for the purpose of giving, but because they expect to receive something in return. And when they don't, they are really good at sending us on a guilt trip. And when they do get a gift, they end up criticizing the fact that the it wasn't on their "list" or (and this has happened a number of times) returning it for something more expensive. I'm not imagining this, this is the reality in our situation.



So my hubby and decided that we were done with the drama and guilt, and that is a part of the reason we decided to ask them not to buy for our little one. How can we teach him about giving and being grateful when he has examples like that?



Also as I mentioned in my earlier post, we asked them that if they must buy gifts (because we know some of them will not listen to us), to please keep it simple. A book or clothes would be great. Which brings us to another reason why we decided to simplify as far as gifts are concerned... our son has way too much stuff! Toys, toys, toys everywhere. He's 2, and has no idea what to do with all of the toys. In fact, I think sometimes it overwhelms him.



I hoping that clarifies a few things for some people.



I do like the idea of picking names, and perhaps this is something that we can try next year (if everybody is willing).



I'd also like to add that we try to be generous throughout the year with our families. We try to spend as much time with them as possible. We buy little things for each of them throughout the year, we take the kids for outings and sleepovers when we can. Why then, does it all come down to this one day? Why is it that all of the nice things we've done together as a family are suddenly irrelevant on Christmas morning?



Honestly, we really aren't trying to ruin anyone else's Christmas. We are just doing our best to teach our son to be appreciative of what he has, and to give for the simple purpose of giving.



BTW, I still decorated my house and put up a tree and we'll still have a nice Christmas dinner (this year homemade Chinese food, next year maybe French or Greek). I'm just not willing to stress about any of it for other people's sake.



EDITED TO ADD:



Just so we're clear on this... no one balked at our request that they not buy our son gifts. They were upset that WE are not buying our son a ton of gifts, that we are choosing to stay at home on Christmas Day, and that we are not buying their children gifts.

Sally - posted on 12/19/2011

306

0

15

It sounds to me like you changed the rules too fast. Maybe you should have eased into the new tradtions. Noone likes changes. I would be hurt if a family member asked me not to buy for their child. Giving a gift to a child is the best part of Christmas. I understand that it can be tough financially at times, drawing names is a way around that. But to arbitraraily decide who can buy for who is a bit harsh. Now, I do agree 100% with staying home on Christmas Day.
We do an Christmas Eve open house. Whomever wants to come or can come are welcome. Friends, Family, ect. But on Christmas Day it is for my husband, daughter and me. My dad joins us too. But that is it. Christmas Day is a day to play with new toys, eat leftovers and stay in our PJ's. No dinner stress, no company to serve.
And I must also say, that it is hard to teach the spirit of giving if you ban relatives from giving. My daughter has a December Bday (as do I) she had a HUGE bday party this year. She had 18 kids at her party, so 18 gifts. That plus family gifts, she was a bit overloaded. The worst offender? My only Sister. She spoils my girl to no end. But, who am I to take that away from her? The joy my Sister gets giving to my daughter is priceless. I know she bought her too much for Christmas too. But that is her choice not mine. I welcome any gift for my child because I know it is given with love. I think it sounds kind of Grinch like to tell someone else whom they can or cannot buy for. If you can't buy for everyone because of money issues, be honest. But don't steamroll others holiday joy. I think there must be a happy medium where you can start your own tradions without stomping out someone elses.
And I take issue with the whole true meaning of Christmas thing. What does the "true meaning of Christmas" have to do with you telling people what they can and can't do?

Sherri - posted on 12/18/2011

9,593

15

387

I think changing things within your own house between your son and husband are just fine that is your choice. I also think that staying home for Christmas is great for your son.

But telling others not to buy for your son and denying them to buy what they want and then not buying for the other children in the family personally I think that is hurtful and unnecessary.

I am pretty certain that is where the hurt and complications are coming from and honestly I don't blame them because I would feel exactly the same way.

We also have 11 nieces and nephews and we pick names for 9 of them and buy for 2 children ea. with a budget of $50 per child and then for the two other kids that we buy for.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

17 Comments

View replies by

Lindsey - posted on 12/28/2011

121

0

18

Well, Christmas is over and we survived. We did things exactly as we had planned and it was a great Christmas! We had a wonderful, relaxing day and my Chinese meal was a hit (although I think next year it'll be Italian food, Chinese is just too much work). And it seems that most of the family got over their misgivings.

We went to my MIL's home on Christmas Eve for dinner, which was just excellent. We had a nice visit and we were home by 6:30, which gave hubby and I plenty of time to relax and enjoy our evening together.

And then on Boxing Day we had my SIL and her family over for the dinner and board games.

Of course, my son still got toys from some of my family, but at least they didn't go completely overboard. Funny though, the same family members who couldn't get over the fact that we weren't going completely crazy with buying gifts for our son were the same ones who complained to me about how their kids just had too many toys now. I refrained from saying anything to them on the subject, but maybe now they can see where we were coming from.

All in all, it worked out nicely and hopefully next year it'll be that much easier. We just have to stick to our guns.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Sally - posted on 12/19/2011

306

0

15

I think when you change Christmas Traditions, you are always going to have problems. That doesn't mean you can't change things, it just means that it will rarely be easy.



Just like dealing with Children, sometimes family needs to be told the same thing over and over again. If you always give a kid a cookie after dinner and then suddenly decide not to, a battle will ensue. Easing in new ideas, and doing it calmly is the only answer.



I love Christmas. So for me, it is hard not to buy gifts for people. I love givng gifts. My husbands family has eased out of giving gifts. His Dad & Stepmom only give to the Grandkids, and that they have cut down to just the young ones and those still in College. There are 14 grandkids. Large blended family. While buying gifts, in years past, for everyone was tough. I have to admit I truely miss it. The last few years, we have done the everyone bring one gift game. Now they have decided not to that this year. That makes me sad.



While gift giving might not have as much meaning to you, to someone else it may mean a whole lot more. Exchanging gifts is very important to me, it is my way of saying I care about you and I am glad you are a part of my life. And I love getting gifts for that reason too. I mean real gifts, not generic gift exchange type gifts. I don't know your family, I don't know the dynamics at play but I know that gift giving plays a huge role in my Christmas and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I hope your Christmas works out the way you want it too.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/19/2011

12,224

26

238

I think it's fine! If that's what makes you guys happy - do it. Your family needs to understand that you want to have the holiday more to yourselves. Keyword = more. Afterall, it's not like you said you aren't going to see them. You still are going to do just that! Just not on Christmas.

I do think we make too big of a deal out of the holidays and it stresses me out for sure. After moving out on my own and having two boys, it seems like a daunting task to do everything my mom used to do. The tree that needs to be put up by whatever day, planning meals, shopping - it's all chaos to me. I hope to have it more in order when they are older but in the mean time I'm learning, with the support of my boyfriend, that the holidays are just about spending time together and that's all that matters. Being happy.

I would have not specified about presents though. I'd kindly suggest about clothes vs toys but ultimately if they want to spend 100 dollars on toys, I'd let them if it makes them happy. It definiatly was a good idea to tell your relatives that you aren't buying gifts for their kids.

It's fine. It's fine. It sounds great in fact :)
I hope next year your family gets the hint a bit more and doesn't stress out on you guys so much!

Ashley - posted on 12/19/2011

910

45

83

p.s. In my family now as adults we give to charity as a family in lieu of gift giving. That nakes us all happy :)

Ashley - posted on 12/19/2011

910

45

83

I think that a simple Christmas can be lovely. We used to do it as a family when we were younger, but my parents never made it a rule NOT to buy us gifts or told anyone what they could or couldn't buy us. As for the other kids in family, as long as you make it aware to the parents why you aren't buying I think it is ok. In my family on my dads side the aunts/uncles/gramma would give like 10$ per kid and get one big gift for the child instead of lots of little gifts the Card read "From your Stewart Clan" and was usually something special.

Sherri - posted on 12/18/2011

9,593

15

387

Well that is my opinion Teresa and it has nothing to do with greed. I am also not telling her to spend $50 on ea. of them.

I am simply saying to tell aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. not to buy for your child and dictate what to buy is hurtful and unnecessary and to suddenly decide not to buy for children you have always bought for with no problem to suddenly decide you no longer want too. That is hurtful as well especially since it didn't sound like money was an option they simply didn't wish to do it anymore.

Becky - posted on 12/18/2011

232

23

9

With my family, we always bought for everyone - but now with my brothers & I having sig, other's and kids too, we decided to each buy for our parents, and exchanged names among the other adults, and all still buy for the kids (total of 4 with one on the way). There is no "budget" everyone spends what they can afford to. No one has ever been offended by the gifts they get or don't get.

[deleted account]

I don't care how you do it in your family if your entire family agrees w/ it. That's fine for you. What I'm arguing w/ is telling Lindsey that not buying for her 9 nieces and nephews is hurtful and unnecessary. I only have 3 nephews and one niece and there's no way I could spend $50 on each of them... or only 2 of them and still get my kids ANYTHING for Christmas. I've never done a December (birthday AND Christmas) for over $300 total.

Sherri - posted on 12/18/2011

9,593

15

387

Not per kid we pick names Teresa we only buy for two kids and that was an agreement made by the family as a whole. So everyone was on the same page. FYI this is between me and my siblings. Nobody is being greedy in the least especially since we used to have to buy for 9 kids and now we are only buying for 2.

I am on the same budget as you Teresa and there is no way in hell I could ever only spend $50 per kid. I spent $300 per kid in my house and that will only give them 3 or 4 gifts under the tree total. $50 a kid would literally buy 1 sweatshirt and a pair of jeans here.

[deleted account]

$50 per niece or nephew? Yeah, that's what I spent on each of my own kids.... I'm not made of money and people should not expect gifts. That's just greedy.

[deleted account]

We already do that. We send out family gifts. So each household gets a plate of homemade fudge. Although this year I will have a newborn, so no fudge.

I get the nieces and nephews thing too. I have 11 living nieces and nephews. It just isn't practical.

We get asked all the time about coming over from my husband's side. Although in their defense I think they often forget that we already said no. We normally go over to my brother's for Christmas eve (it will be hard missing it this year).

We do one Christmas gift to eachother in our house. Mainly because then we can get a bit more expensive gift, instead of a bunch of little things (although my husband's gift is kind of like that this year, but it is what he wanted). It doesn't help that my daugther's birthday is at the end of November, our son's will be monday, and mine is in the first week of January. Money really becomes an issue then.

Johnny - posted on 12/17/2011

8,686

26

318

I think what you are doing is a very good idea. Perhaps some of your family may think so too deep down, but are criticizing because they may see that you are correct, and it feels like criticism to them. It might be hard this year, but I think if you stick to your guns, you might find that next year, more people are on side.

We do Christmas quite simply too. Just have one daughter, and we bought her one big gift, one small gift (which we actually picked up a few years ago and she is ready for now) and a whole bunch of books. She gets gifts from her grandparents and a few aunts and uncles. But not that much. My husband and I just bought an XBox for the family as our Christmas present and that will be it. Nothing more for each other. We buy gifts for 3 nieces and a nephew, but not siblings. If we could not afford it, we would be able to explain it to our families and it would NOT be an issue. For both our families, the holiday season is much more about an opportunity to spend time together than anything else. I love to decorate, but that's my entertainment, not a "requirement". And we do travel to our in-laws the day after Christmas for a week. But we enjoy doing it. On Christmas day, we are just at my family's place, no other traveling around or hosting. It's generally pretty quiet.

[deleted account]

I've always done Christmas simply. I usually only buy for my kids (3 of them... spent $150 total this year). Sometimes I will buy for my nephews (were 2, but now 3 this year) or niece, but it's not every year and certainly not expected by anyone.

I DO go to my dad's house, but he only lives 15ish minutes away.... and that way I don't have to cook anything. ;)

Our tree is a 4ft artificial one that is missing two limbs. lol My girls do all the decorating in the house and they love it. :)

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms